MENAḤOT (Heb. מְנָחוֹת; "meal-offerings"), second tractate in the order Kodashim, in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Babylonian Talmud (there is no Jerusalem Talmud to this tractate). Menaḥot has 13 chapters and deals, as its name indicates, with the various meal-offerings in the Temple. Chapters 1–3 discuss in great detail the defects in the sacrificial act, especially wrongful intent and omission, which render the offering unfit (pasul or piggul). Chapter 4 continues with the same subject, listing instances of omissions which do not invalidate the offering; the last part deals with the meal-offering of the high priest (Lev. 6:13–16). Chapters 5 and 6 are mainly concerned with the preparation of the meal-offering. Chapter 7 deals with the loaves of the thanksgiving-offering (Lev. 7:12), of the consecration-offering (Lev. 8:26), and of the Nazirite-offering (Num. 6:15). Chapter 8 gives the ingredients of the meal-offering (flour, oil, wine, etc.) and the manner in which they were processed and prepared. Chapter 9 gives valuable information on the liquid and dry measures used in the Temple. Chapter 10 deals with the offering of the Omer ("sheaf of the waving"; Lev. 23:15–22), and Chapter 11 with the meal-offering of the barley of the new harvest (Lev. 23:16) and the shewbread (Lev. 24:5–9). Chapter 12 is mainly on vows concerning meal-offerings and drink-offerings. Chapter 13 discusses the problem arising out of sacrificial vows which were inaccurately defined. It also mentions, incidentally, the temple of *Onias. The Mishnah ends with a homily on the fact that the Bible employs the phrase "a sweet savor unto the Lord" equally with regard to offerings of cattle (Lev. 1:9), fowl (Lev. 1:17), and meal (Lev. 2:2) in order to emphasize that "it matters not whether one offers much or little, provided one's heart is directed towards heaven." The Tosefta, also 13 chapters, ends with a homily on the causes of the destruction of the Temple, and, quoting Isaiah 2:2–3, visualizes the future Temple as a universal one.
The first three chapters of the tractate have language patterns similar to the first four chapters of Zevaḥim. The similarity between Mishnah 3:1 and Zevaḥim 3:3 is especially striking. Epstein (Tannaim, 156f.) points to various strata in the Mishnah: mishnayot 3:5–4:4 end are from the Mishnah of R. Simeon, while mishnayot 1:3–4 belong to Judah b. Ilai (cf. Zev. 1:2; 6:7). Mishnah 3:4, quoted in the name of Simeon, appears in the Tosefta in the name of his son Eleazar. Apparently Eleazar had recorded his father's sayings together with his own, and thus the editor of the Tosefta attributed it to Eleazar. The Tosefta includes several groups of beraitot. Thus 1:2–4 contrasts the laws of sheḥitah ("slaughtering"), kemizaḥ ("scooping out" with the hand), and melikah ("nipping" the neck of a bird). In the group 4:9–14 each of the passages starts with the word kamaẓ ("he scooped"), and the group 12:11–13:12 consists of laws concerning the dedication of offerings to the Temple. The Tosefta includes some aggadic material: Moses' blessing of the nation after the erection of the Tabernacle (7:8); God's evaluation of the sacrifices (7:9); an account of the golden tables, and candelabra, and of the shewbread of the Temple (11:6–18); and the corruption of the priests (13:18–21) and the sins that brought about the destruction of Shiloh and of the First and Second Temples: "Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because of the idolatry, incest, and shedding of blood that prevailed. But at the Second Temple we know that they toiled in the study of Torah and were heedful of the tithes: why then were they exiled? Because they loved money and hated one another. This teaches that hatred of man for his fellow is heinous before the Omnipresent and is regarded as being as grave as idolatry, incest, and murder" (13:22). The Babylonian Gemara has some interesting aggadic passages. There is a remarkable story to demonstrate the merits of wearing ẓiẓit as a safeguard against immorality (44a); a most interesting homily of R. Ezra (53a); and passages on the Jewish attitude toward Greek culture (64b, 99b) and on the origin of the Temple of Onias (109b). Several of the aggadot in Menaḥot emphasize the spiritual implications of sacrificing. A poignant aggadah by R. Isaac states that when the poor offer God a meal-offering, in spite of its negligible value, God honors the giver as though he had offered up his soul (104b). Regarding its halakhot, large portions of the text are taken up by extraneous material; e.g., 28a–44b deal mainly with the menorah, mezuzah, tefillin, and ẓiẓit. In the printed editions the sequence of the chapters in the Babylonian Talmud differs from that of the separate Mishnah edition; the 10th Mishnah chapter is 6th, and consequently the mishnaic 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th chapters become the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th respectively. Menaḥot was translated into English and published by the Soncino Press, London (1948).
Ḥ. Albeck, Shishah Sidrei Mishnah-Kodashim (1959), 59–62; Epstein, Amora'im.
[Arnost Zvi Ehrman]